Tall ships dock in Shetland ahead of Princess Royal festival visit

The sailing vessels arrived in Shetland as part of the Tall Ships Races, heralding a four-day festival for the island.

A fleet of tall ships docked at Lerwick Harbour on Monday, ahead of a visit by the Princess Royal.

The sailing vessels arrived in Shetland as part of the Tall Ships Races 2023, heralding a four-day festival of fun for the island.

The first two vessels to enter the main port were Norwegian Class B, Loyal and the Indonesian Navy’s newest and largest Class A, Bima Suci.

On all the ships arriving at the port, more than 1,000 crew members representing 50 nationalities will descend upon Lerwick, hundreds of which are young people trying sailing for the first time.

With vessels visiting various ports en route during the Cruise in Company leg from Fredrikstad, Norway, the staggered arrivals of all 37 in the international flotilla will be completed by Wednesday for the official start.

Princess Anne and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, will visit Lerwick on Thursday.

The town has twice previously hosted the Tall Ships Races in 1999 and 2011, as Scotland’s only host port for the nautical event.


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Port authority chief executive, Captain Calum Grains, said: “It has been an increasingly hectic planning and preparation period over four years which has been impacted by the Covid pandemic.

“With the big day finally here, we are proud to be a host port for the Races for the third time.

“It is our privilege to join with the community in welcoming crews and trainees, thousands of visitors and, of course, HRH The Princess Royal.”

The Princess Royal and Sir Tim’s visit to the islands will include engagements with the vessels and their crews, participants, organisers and sponsors, plus attending a Captains’ Dinner.

“Our ability to cope with routine operations and a busy cruise season – including six cruise vessels during the event – plus Tall Ships, is a visible demonstration of the port’s capacity and versatility,” Captain Grains said.

“Sincere thanks go to all staff and those who have worked alongside us to make the occasion possible, including Shetland Tall Ships Ltd, organisers of the islands’ involvement.”

A hundred trainees, recruited by local charity Sail Training Shetland, are taking part on board the sailing ships.

Vessels will begin departing around 11am on Saturday to join in a colourful Parade of Sail as they set course for the final race leg to Arendal, Norway.

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